Remember the story earlier this week about Big Agribusiness trying to make it a crime “to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility”? Another manure-caked workboot just dropped (into the industrial hamburger grinder):
Half the meat and poultry sold in the supermarket may be tainted with the staph germ, a new report suggests. The new estimate is based on just 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased from grocery stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Flagstaff, Ariz. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Proper cooking kills the germs, and federal health officials estimate staph accounts for less than 3 percent of foodborne illnesses, far less than more common bugs like salmonella and E. coli.
The new study found more than half the samples contained Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can make people sick. Worse, half of those contaminated samples had a form of staph that’s resistant to at least three kinds of antibiotics.
“This study shows that much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with multidrug-resistant staph,” Paul Keim, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “Now we need to determine what this means in terms of risk to the consumer.”
Keim and his co-authors work at the nonprofit Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona. Their study is to be published in the journal Clinical infectious Diseases, an institute spokesman said.
Hope that wasn’t a rare burger you just ate, folks…
Speaking of, I discovered the best habanero salsa ever. It’s from Schulenberg, TX and it is unbelievably good.
Called Oma’s Choice.
They sell it at Specs, for the Texans amongst us.
What really sucks is that I like rare meat. Fuckers.
Yeah, I’ve completely given up on rare meat. The only thing I’ll eat less than medium rare is sushi, and anything that’s been through a meat grinder gets at least medium well. I’m also thinking this is a good argument in favor of food from smaller, better run farms.
Yevgraf (fka Michael)
You can have my med rare burger when you can pry it from my puke and diarrhea stained fingers…
And I ain’t.kiddin’-I love the things to the point of self-destruction.
@Omnes Omnibus: Grass-fed local, if you can get it. I know it sounds boutique as hell, but at this point I consider it self-defense. I like rare meat, too.
Places like Lasater Grass Fed beef in Colorado do mail order, but the shipping costs can be killer.
@Kristine: I can, and I try to do so.
as a microbiologist, I have NEVER liked raw meat…period. All ya gotta do is go through one Salmonella outbreak and have to process umpteen specimens of stool, before you realize that if the meat is pink, I ain’t eating it.
Plus, S. aureus can be normal flora in humans. It’s when it is Methicllin-Resistant (MRSA) that you really need to worry. MRSA is can be either Community (a good number of people are already colonized with MRSA) acquired or Nocosomial-acquired (hospital),
Moral of the story, I NEVER eat uncooked meat or fish either. I love a good steak, but it’s either medium well (no pink) or well-done (not dry)
Things to make folks feel a bit better:
A) the more intact your meat is the less likely you’re in danger of getting food contamination. Virtually all dangerous bacteria can only exist on the surface, so if you cook that part of your steak thoroughly you’re fine.
B) no bug yet exists that can live hotter than 165 degrees for 10 seconds or longer (undersea volcano vent bacteria excepted, but those aren’t gonna be on your steak) so as long as you cook your exposed areas to at least that temperature you’re golden.
And I like everything but my lamb just under well done. Neener.
@lamh34: I actually eat a lot less meat than I used to, but when I do eat it I want it to taste good. If I need to cook a good steak to death, there is no point in eating it.
Don’t worry. The invisible hand of the market will take care of this.
I don’t eat raw meat anymore either. About twenty years ago, I had the habit of cooking chicken in the microwave, and not always completely cooked, per rush rushing around in those days.
One day I got a megadose of Salmonella that just about did me in. It took about a year to fully recover, and it was maybe two years before I could even look at a chicken again without gagging.
@General Stuck: Now, chicken, that I cook until I am damn sure it is done. I scrub every surface that the dirty little fowl touched as well.
What can you trust?
You can, however do for yourself and keep some poop in a bowl- preferably stoneware, preferably ancient, but definitely with some sprigs of herbs powerful and resonant ornamenting the poop– on your final preparation island, and you can be confident that the plates your guests receive have achieved the 100% mark. Rub it in, rub it deep, and smile.
@Omnes Omnibus: understood, but all it take is one Salmonella infection and shit literally coming out of both ends, and you may never eat raw meat again.
that’s all I’m saying.
oh, and there are some spore-forming bacteria that can cause foodborne infections (i.e. Clostridium, Bacillus) that can survive pretty extreme temperatures.
@lamh34: I very seldom eat raw meat other than sushi. Carpaccio occasionally but only at a restaurant that has very high standards.
Thank you for your focus on food safety issues – this is going to be an ever-growing problem until people start demanding more oversight.
I use household bleach on everything that raw chicken is on or even near. I cook it completely.
Also pork has to be cooked until no pink.
OT: I am reviewing some documents right now and using this site as a distraction. I just read the term “plot plans” as “pot plants.” Perhaps I should start thinking about winding things up for the evening.
You can eat steak rare as long as the outside is cooked. Hamburger is a different story though. We buy ours from a local meat market that grinds their own, each batch is from a single cow. Much safer but I still don’t trust it 100%.
The other thing is Sous Vide. You don’t have to get chicken to 160 degrees is you can hold it at 120 long enough it will kill the bacteria just as well. The FDA temps are high because it is assumed you don’t keep them there very long.But I have not tried it myself yet.
@Omnes Omnibus: We do get occasional hints from our subconscious when we should just. stop. naow. I think you just had one.
Obviously, I wasn’t very smart in those days, and usually needed harsh lessons to learn common precautions. Not even a biology degree made a difference when it should have.
Wonder I’ve survived this long, to maybe have a little sense about stuff.
Consider this good news: That is a meaningless statistic. Staph germs are EVERYWHERE. They are on your hands right now. You would put them on that meat preparing it. That half of those cuts of meat had a detectable amount of Staph is meaningless. That they had a resistant form is kind of freaky, but even that may be meaningless because resistances occur in the wild.
Without information on what is safe or how much of the bacterial population normally has resistances or how bacterial contamination levels have changed over time, this is a piece of data that just doesn’t tell you anything. Whatever your opinions are about meat, good or bad, this does not refute them or confirm them. It’s just an empty number.
@Yutsano: so as long as you cook your exposed areas to at least that temperature you’re golden.
Good advice. But if you’re not very careful it can lead to unsightly blistering, especially around the lips and eyes..
Yevgraf (fka Michael)
My love for raw meat is such that it led me to order carpaccio at a Mexican resort. My wife was smirking at me across the table, but I did just fine, as expected.
Yevgraf (fka Michael)
Another recollection – in the past, I’d nibble the raw burger as I made patties.
@Yevgraf (fka Michael): I ordered it in Romania. It was fine. The steak I got was gray. The preferred status for grilled meat in that country is crunchy.
People are so fucking moronic about the subject of “tainted” food.
It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to get meat from the point of being on the hoof to packaged and ready for sale without it being contaminated with bacteria of some sort from some source–typically the animal itself. The exception to this is if the meat is irradiated.
Most people MOST OF THE TIME will not get sick from eating raw hamburger. But there are exceptions because one never knows the microbial bioburden the meat is carrying or if it has a toxin-producing strain in high enough quantities to cause an infection that will give one trouble (and the numbers required for some strains are relatively low). Then you also have to consider the immune state of the person eating the contaminated meat as well An old person, young child or immuno-compromised individual might not fair so well on a dose of bug-tainted meat that wouldn’t faze a person in robust health.
I utterly despise articles like this one that spread fear without spelling out the common sense exceptions/caveats to the reader.
There is nothing wrong with eating a rare steak or a rare prime rib. Eat it and enjoy it if you are in good health.
And lamh is right. The staph isn’t a problem unless it is the MRSA strain and it usually isn’t a problem even then until one gets an infection. S. aureus is part of the normal flora of most people. That is unlikely consuming it if the meat is well cooked (it won’t survive the heat of cooking it or most likely the trip through the GI tract).
This is clearly the work of liberal infiltrators trying to force all the manly men to go vegan and get girlified.
@Yevgraf (fka Michael): Steak tartare, my good man, as it is known in Wisconsin, “wildcat.”
@Stillwater: There’s a term for what I just did there: low hanging curveball. And that wasn’t even my intention.
That seems to be a quirk of eastern European meat cookery, which I’m sure can be tied to some Turkish influence. IIRC raw and rare meat is haram in Islam.
C Nelson Reilly
I’ve eliminated the middle man and started eating charcoal. No problems yet.
Minor correction: you need to keep the food over about 130°F to Pasteurize it, not 120°F. But I’ll definitely put in a strong word in favor of sous vide. I’ve just gotten started with it, but my experience so far is enough to convince me that it’s the best way of cooking meat anyone has developed. You can cook tough cuts for long enough to tenderize them without having them go past medium rare. And sealing the food in pouches really does help to seal in the flavor, so it comes out tasting better than any other way of cooking I’ve found.
@Yutsano: At least there wasn’t any mention of applying that technique while cooking in the nude. Puts a new meaning on low hanging curve.
Unfortunately, a lot of meat is now mechanically tenderized, which has the unfortunate effect of pushing contamination from the surface into the meat. Even worse, this is not advertized and not obvious by inspection. You can’t necessarily count on the meat being safe inside just because you cooked the outside.
@Omnes Omnibus: Forbidden. Like pork.
@Stillwater: Never cook bacon naked. That’s your free advice for the evening.
@Yevgraf (fka Michael):
same here. I’ve always loved raw meat, and I STILL nibble on the raw ground when making burgers. Yum.
And as y’all can see, I turned out just fine. : )
Yevgraf (fka Michael)
@Omnes Omnibus: Grew up on raw kibbee (an Arabic treat made by my grandmother, the recipe taught to me and lovingly made still). High quality, fresh ground meat only – its awesome.
@Yutsano: Thank you for both pieces of information. Did you learn the bacon bit through experience?
Just use a bacon weight and don’t cook it too hot. It really cuts down the slpattering. Not that I know this as a perfect solution for cooking bacon in the nude, mind you, just that it keeps it from splattering on the stove, so I figure it will protect your sensitive bits, too.
switched mostly to meat from the farmer’s market. I rarely eat meat anyways so I feel like if I do, I might as well pay a fair price for it.
@Roger Moore: FTR, most restaurants cook bacon in the oven. ~400F for 12 minutes usually does it. Just put a cooling rack in a (rimmed) baking sheet.
Mr Stagger Lee
Paging Mr Sinclair, your office is calling, Paging Mr. Upton Sinclair
A deep fryer is also supposed to work very nicely.
Regarding salmonella, Sweden has made it nearly non-existent. Very tight controls and inspections of farms and processing facilities have produced much healthier meat, including poultry. This is a side effect of socialism, I guess. The government runs the program and enforces the rules strictly. People before profits, and all that.
A simple search will turn up many citations for this, but here’s a couple of links:
Swedish experience relating to the control of Salmonella
Sweden beats salmonella
anyone ever told you you’re pathetic?
Sure but the big advantage of cooking bacon in a pan is that the pan is then hot and greased for whatever you want to cook next. It’s the best solution to the “you always have to throw the first pancake away” problem.
Grass fed beef and cage free chicken raised without antibiotics.
It costs more, but fuck it.
@Roger Moore: What if what you want to cook is more bacon?
…will still have comparable levels of these bacteria.
@Roger Moore: Potatoes fried in bacon grease are simply the most crispy delicious spuds you’ll ever put in your mouth. Bar none.
@Omnes Omnibus: Tis a conundrum, since bacon really should be started in a cold pan. I guess you just deal with it and move on.
Yevgraf (fka Michael)
I use a 3 gallon stockpot for bacon – no spatters.
This is UnPossible since the Free Market (starbursts! starbursts!) doesn’t allow a company to ship tainted meat to consumers.
And who are you going to trust YOUR food safety to? A lousy Darwin-worshiping biologist or a God Fearing evangelical Neo-Classical Economist?
To ask the question answers the question.
Two words: duck fat.
I’m confused. Is this thread supposed to make me hungry or repulsed?
Come on, this is Balloon-Juice. Any thread that mentions food, even in a bad way, will eventually turn into food porn. It’s part of the charm of the place.
@Roger Moore: I know, I know. It’s just that we went from puke, diarrhea and rubbing poop into food to bacon and frying potatoes in duck fat in a (perhaps) unseemly amount of time.
Duncan Dönitz (formerly Otto Graf von Pfmidtnöchtler-Pízsmőgy, Mumphrey, et al.)
Should we set up a pool on how long it’ll be before the attorney general of Arizona subpoenas Paul Keim’s e-mails? After all, he works at Northern Arizona University, a state university. He must be using taxpayer money to cook up his fraudulent numbers, right?
@Roger Moore: Cue jeffreyw to post a gorgeous photo of a big hunk of meat, rare.
Actually, I did just a little while ago from his screening new posters for possible infiltration by his personal boogymen. In this case, sniffing out his hall monitor nemesis Allan, and doing it by playing hall monitor himself. How diabolical and crazy is that. I think the bottle worm has the lad again in his cups.
yep, imagine inhabiting a world where Nicks and Allans lurk behind every door and around every corner, ready to spawn fresh armies of sock-puppets at every moment. It must be extremely stressful.
@eemom: What if they and others are doing just that? Then what?
Cole hasn’t gotten here yet.
@Omnes Omnibus: The question is: are they looming?
@Stillwater: Now I have that picture of Putin looming stuck in my head. Thanks.
@Yevgraf (fka Michael): I usually put it all on a cookie sheet and bake at 400f, starting with a cold oven. Depending on thickness, the time runs from 20-30 minutes. This way, I avoid CATastrophe. As in, my old guy cat trying to steal bacon as it sizzles in the pan and related shenanigans.
@Omnes Omnibus: I feel for ya. But it’s probably better than a picture of Stuck looming Putin in your head. Right?
@Stillwater: Clever and frightening. Well done.
But of course! Efficient management of time is one the keys to good cuisine!
Probably comes from the meat processing plant, not the actual farm where the meat was raised.
And it’s probably at least partly due to harsh management policies, such as an aggressive absenteeism policy.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to slice a t-bone — to the HR manager, “qualified” simply means (a) you have enough limbs still to operate the meat saws and (b) you don’t have a gag reflex so strong that you instantly vomit all over the raw meat you’re trying to cut. (These places don’t exactly smell like rose gardens.)
So, if you’re a high school dropout and you’re consigned to this level of work, and you know you’ll get fired if you tell your boss you need to take a sick day, then you just don’t take the sick day.
And if your spouse is an orderly at the local hospital where MRSA is rampant, then you’ve got MRSA in your house and on your skin and possibly suppurating from that open sore you tried to hide with a bandage so your boss wouldn’t fire you.
Barb (formerly Gex)
The agribusiness can get their way for all I care. I’ve already given up on meat in this country. I’ve basically gone vegetarian by assessing the meat industries standards are and going from there.
Just say NO to CAFO meat. Seriously. if enough people started buying grass fed beef and local free range chicken maybe BigAg would be forced to change their terrible system. It isnt only unhealthy to eat meat produced in a CAFO, but it is cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
I now use meat like the Mexicans, as a condiment mostly. No one needs to eat huge quantities of meat, a serving of meat should be about the size of a pack of cards.
Try a no CAFO diet for a month. You will be surprised at how much your health improves. Why would you want to eat something that has been banned in the EU and Japan?
Joel, no, the CAFO system of feeding antibiotics to animals each day is the culprit. When you feed low levels of antibiotics to animals, the bacteria evolve. The Union of Concerned Scientists has been calling out the meat industry for this non theraputic use of antibiotics. They have to feed antibiotics or the animals would die from the filthy crowded conditions!
Over 50% of CAFO workers test positive for MRSA. CAFOs are the source of this bacteria. Which then gets into our health care system. You want to take a chance that a piece of raw CAFO meat does not have MRSA? 50/50 odds.
Very short summary line:
We corvids are very concerned that you hominids are contaminating our food supply with these dangerous organisms.
Grumpy Code Monkey
And this is why we’ve been buying a side of grass-fed beef from a local rancher for the last few years (along with pork, lamb, goat, chickens, etc.). We’ve also got a pretty good garden going, at least to supplement what we get from the farmers’ market and grocery store.
The massive centralization of food production and distribution isn’t all bad, but it does have significant down sides.
I submit that the combination of CAFOs and GMO feed-stocks is ALL BAD.
Not only from the MRSA proliferation in CAFOs.
A scientist at Purdue has discovered a new pathogen (under an electron microscope) on genetically modified (GM) wheat that is a combination virus/fungus. This new pathogen caused a 50% abortion rate in cattle fed with GM wheat.
Think about that.
Think about all the foods that contain wheat, and the spread of GM wheat in the US when other countries are banning it! And even with nations banning GM grains, it is still showing up in genetic lines of grains grown in those nations (Mexico and Ireland).
We now have GM canola growing wild by the side of the road in the upper mid west. And now they approved the first GM perennial, Alfalfa, in the US. Round up Ready Alfalfa.
Some whole food advocates are saying that GM foods are changing our internal bacteria balance to the extent that these Round up genes are producing pesticides inside our intestinal tract! We really need extensive studies before they unleash these plants in the biosphere or feed them to people or animals.
I like all my meat well-done. Neener neener!
Nonetheless, we shouldn’t have to worry about Salmonella or MRSA in our meat. If there were enough USDA inspectors we wouldn’t have this problem. But USDA funds were cut during the Bush Maladministration and many inspectors were laid off. False economy. But free market! Free market! USA! USA!
Sorry but the newest kid on the block can be cooked to 1400% and does not die. You are now dealing with Transenic creatures in your food like never before. I actually took Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and sprayed my steaks, chicken and they turned white immediately a sign if was full of germs and bacteria. Get together and find someone who has the space to grow your meat. The video I watched about commerically processing meat showed how 6000 hogs are slaughtered a DAY and how they do not have the time to be concerned with germs, Ecoli, or the rest. It is in the vegetables also. If you saw you could not eat them either. Nothing commercailly done is as good as on a small scale. WE must go back to basics to survive.